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THE JUST-SO WOMAN by Gary Blackwood


by Gary Blackwood & illustrated by Jane Manning

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-06-057727-4
Publisher: HarperCollins

This level-three title in the I Can Read series introduces new readers to a fastidious female homesteader and her “devil-may-care” male neighbor. When she finds no butter for her breakfast bread, the Just-So Woman sets about making more. One complicated thing leads to another: Her milking stool breaks, her hatchet needs sharpening and she must make soap to wash the cream spoon, which the cat licked. Exhausting herself with many self-imposed tasks, the woman borrows salt and a butter mold from the Any-Way Man, only to find that her hungry cat has eaten every bit of the fresh butter. Blackwood deftly integrates a sense of the rigors of homesteading life into the easy-reader format. He hints at a possible romance—or at least, a blossoming friendship—between the Any-Way Man and the Just-So Woman, intimating that each will benefit from understanding the other’s modus operandi. Manning’s illustrations nimbly incorporate the story’s rustic, old-timey elements while rendering the characters in child-appealing, cartoonish forms. (author’s note) (Easy reader. 5-8)